There’s often a transition moment between sounds and subcultures where sometimes something remarkable happens. Between acid house, rave and UK hardcore at the beginning of the 1990s there was a short period of ‘bleep techno’ – which most notably spawned Warp Records via LFO and Tricky Disco’s eponymous tracks, and Nightmares on Wax’s Aftermath. Two years later it was already a footnote, eclipsed by the sounds it bore. But the legacy has been long and every ten or so years it gets revisited – there’s something quite beguiling about bleep records that makes them resonate across generations. Perhaps it’s the minimalistic almost rudimentary construction of these tunes – a simple melody underpinned by a speaker destroying bass line – and the bottled up energy that they contain. Dance compilation label Rumour Records put out a series of four compilations at the height of the bleep era called Bleeps Bass & Breaks and the title of this compilation is also a homage to those.
Reordering those three words, this collection is spread over two double LPs or one CD, but strangely no digital release, and two vinyl only exclusives. It digs deep into the b-sides and harder to find material from that 89-91 period. Music writer Matt Anniss supplies the liner notes drawing on the wealth of knowledge he’s built up researching his must-read book on the era Join The Future. And, Trevor Jackson supplies the graphic design riffing off his work of the same era for Nettwerk’s classic Biorhythms compilations with a little bit of Sheffield’s The Designers Republic influence.
The track selection is top notch opening with The Scientist’s 1991 sample-filled Spiral Symphony before the b-side of Cisco Ferreira, Colin McBean and Keith Franklin (of Bang the Party)’s first 1990 release as KCC. Then it’s an early Reinforced track from Manix and Tek 9 in their first and only combo release as R.Solution. Geir Jenssen’s Biosphere represents the deep Norwegian bleep sound of his self-titled debut album with Baby Satellite. Then its across to Manchester for A Certain Ratio’s Spirit Dance – an almost balearic electro track -from their heavily Hacienda-referencing ACR:MCR album from 1990. Hypersonic’s Speak & Spell sampling Dance Tones ups the pace and the first double LP closes out with Heychild’s self titled obscurity from the second Bio Rhythms compilation. The second double LP is more breakbeat inflected opening with break-y techno from Terra Incognita and the dub of Boneshakers’ Don’t Go Away. Tek 9 returns with the early Space 91 a slice of proto-hardcore and some nice bleep-y tracks from Break The Limits, Three Suns, and Trak1 before the whole thing closes out with Tony Thorpe’s Moody Boyz deep remix of The KLF’s What Time Is Love.